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Colin Powell Dies

Donald Trump (yet again) proves there's no bottom


Story by Chris Cillizza

Story   Source

Published on October 20, 2021 3:14 AM
 
What Trump's statement should remind us is that this is a man uniquely self-obsessed -- and without any ability to see beyond himself. Powell was openly critical of Trump -- he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 -- and of the dark direction the billionaire businessman was leading the country.
 
Roughly 24 hours after the death of Colin Powell, Donald Trump proved, again, that he is utterly incapable of empathy, grace or even common decency.

"Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media," Trump said in a statement released Tuesday morning. "Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!"

"But anyway, may he rest in peace!" Yes, Trump really said that. The gulf between Trump's statement and that of other former presidents on Powell's passing is simply massive.

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell," said George W. Bush. "He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam." "General Powell was an exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot," said Barack Obama. "He was at the center of some of the most consequential events of our lifetimes."...

Background

Colin Luther Powell was an American statesman, diplomat, and four-star general who served as the 65th United States secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African-American secretary of state. He served as the 16th United States national security advisor from 1987 to 1989 and as the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

Powell was born in New York City in 1937 and was raised in the South Bronx. His parents, Luther and Maud Powell, immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. He was educated in the New York City public schools and received a bachelor's degree in geology from the City College of New York. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. He was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held many command and staff positions and rose to the rank of four-star general. He was Commander of the US Army Forces Command in 1989.

Powell's last military assignment, from October 1989 to September 1993, was as the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. During this time, he oversaw 28 crises, including the invasion of Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990–1991. He formulated the Powell Doctrine which limits American military action unless it satisfies criteria regarding American national security interests, overwhelming force, and widespread public support.

He was the 65th United States secretary of state, serving under Republican President George W. Bush. As secretary of state, Powell gave a speech before the United Nations regarding the rationale for the Iraq War. He later admitted that the speech contained substantial inaccuracies. He was forced to resign after Bush was reelected in 2004.

In 1995, Powell wrote his autobiography, My American Journey, and then in retirement another book, It Worked for Me, Lessons in Life and Leadership. He pursued a career as a public speaker, addressing audiences across the country and abroad. Before his appointment as secretary of state, Powell chaired America's Promise.

He won numerous US and foreign military awards and decorations. His civilian awards included the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Secretary's Distinguished Service Award. In 2016, while not a candidate for that year's election, he received three electoral votes from Washington for the office of President of the United States.

Powell, who was being treated for blood cancer, died from complications of COVID-19 on October 18, 2021.

Early life and education Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937, in Harlem, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, to Jamaican immigrants, Maud Ariel and Luther Theophilus Powell. His parents were both of mixed African and Scottish ancestry. Luther worked as a shipping clerk and Maud as a seamstress. Powell was raised in the South Bronx and attended the now closed Morris High School, from which he graduated in 1954.

While at school, Powell worked at a local baby furniture store, where he picked up Yiddish from the Eastern European Jewish shopkeepers and some of the customers. He also served as a Shabbos goy, helping Orthodox families with needed tasks on the Sabbath. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the City College of New York in 1958 and said that he was a 'C average' student. Powell also graduated from George Washington University with an MBA in 1971 and a Honorary Doctor of Public Service in 1990.

Despite his parents' pronunciation of his name as /'k?l?n/, Powell pronounced his name /'ko?l?n/ from childhood on after the World War II flyer Colin P. Kelly Jr.

While attending the City College of New York, Powell joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He described the experience as one of the happiest experiences of his life. According to Powell:

It was only once I was in college, about six months into college when I found something that I liked, and that was ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps in the military. And I not only liked it, but I was pretty good at it. That's what you really have to look for in life, something that you like, and something that you think you're pretty good at. And if you can put those two things together, then you're on the right track, and just drive on.

As a cadet, Powell joined the Pershing Rifles, the ROTC fraternal organization and drill team begun by General John Pershing.

Upon graduation, he received a commission as an Army second lieutenant; at this time, the Army was newly desegregated. He underwent training in the state of Georgia, where he was refused service in bars and restaurants because of the color of his skin. After attending basic training at Fort Benning, Powell was assigned to the 48th Infantry, in West Germany, as a platoon leader.

Vietnam War Captain Powell served a tour in Vietnam as a South Vietnamese Army advisor from 1962 to 1963. While on patrol in a Viet Cong-held area, he was wounded by stepping on a punji stake. The large infection made it difficult for him to walk, and caused his foot to swell for a short time, shortening his first tour.

Powell returned to Vietnam as a major in 1968, serving as assistant chief of staff of operations for the 23rd Infantry Division. During the second tour in Vietnam he was decorated with the Soldier's Medal for bravery after he survived a helicopter crash and single-handedly rescued three others, including division commander Major General Charles M. Gettys, from the burning wreckage.

M? Lai massacre inquiry Soldiers actively hunted, herded, and killed elderly people, children, infants, and raped women while other Soldiers looked on and did nothing to stop the massacre. An estimated 350 to 500 unarmed civilians died in My Lai... MAJ Colin Powell, a recently assigned Deputy G3, investigated the allegations described in the letter. He proved unable to uncover either wide-spread unnecessary killings, war crimes, or any facts related to My Lai...

—?US Army Center for the Army Profession and Leadership, My Lai at 50: Written Case Study Powell was charged with investigating a detailed letter by 11th Light Infantry Brigade soldier Tom Glen, which backed up rumored allegations of the 1968 M? Lai Massacre. Powell wrote: 'In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.' Later, Powell's assessment would be described as whitewashing the news of the massacre, and questions would continue to remain undisclosed to the public. In May 2004, Powell said to television and radio host Larry King, 'I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored.'

When he returned to the US from Vietnam in 1971, Powell earned a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He later served a White House Fellowship under President Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1973. During 1975–1976 he attended the National War College, Washington, D.C.

In his autobiography, My American Journey, Powell named several officers he served under who inspired and mentored him. As a lieutenant colonel serving in South Korea, Powell was very close to General Henry 'Gunfighter' Emerson. Powell said he regarded Emerson as one of the most caring officers he ever met. Emerson insisted his troops train at night to fight a possible North Korean attack, and made them repeatedly watch the television film Brian's Song to promote racial harmony. Powell always professed that what set Emerson apart was his great love of his soldiers and concern for their welfare. After a race riot occurred, in which African-American soldiers almost killed a white officer, Powell was charged by Emerson to crack down on black militants; Powell's efforts led to the discharge of one soldier, and other efforts to reduce racial tensions. During 1976–1977 he commanded the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.

National Security Advisor and other advisory roles In the early 1980s, Powell served at Fort Carson, Colorado. After he left Fort Carson, Powell became senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, whom he assisted during the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1986 airstrike on Libya.

Under Weinberger, Powell was also involved in the unlawful transfer of US-made TOW anti-tank missiles and Hawk anti-aircraft missiles from Israel to Iran as part of the criminal conspiracy that would later become known as the Iran–Contra affair.:?342–349? In November 1985, Powell solicited and delivered to Weinberger a legal assessment that the transfer of Hawk missiles to Israel or Iran, without Congressional notification, would be 'a clear violation' of the law.:?345? Despite this, thousands of TOW missiles and hundreds of Hawk missiles and spare parts were transferred from Israel to Iran until the venture was exposed in a Lebanese magazine, Ash-Shiraa, in November 1986. According to Iran-Contra Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, when questioned by Congress, Powell 'had given incomplete answers' concerning notes withheld by Weinberger and that the activities of Powell and others in concealing the notes 'seemed corrupt enough to meet the new, poorly defined test of obstruction.':?403? Following his resignation as Secretary of Defense, Weinberger was indicted on five felony charges, including one count Obstruction of Congress for concealing the notes.:?456? Powell was never indicted by the Independent Counsel in connection with the Iran-Contra affair.:?v?

President Ronald Reagan and National Security Advisor Powell in 1988 In 1986, Powell took over the command of V Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, from Robert Lewis 'Sam' Wetzel. The next year, he served as United States Deputy National Security Advisor, under Frank Carlucci.

Following the Iran–Contra scandal, Powell became, at the age of 49, Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor, serving from 1987 to 1989 while retaining his Army commission as a lieutenant general. He helped negotiate a number of arms treaties with Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union.

In April 1989, after his tenure with the National Security Council, Powell was promoted to four-star general under President George H. W. Bush and briefly served as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command, headquartered at Fort McPherson, Georgia, overseeing all Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units in the Continental US, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. He became the third general since World War II to reach four-star rank without ever serving as a division commander, joining Dwight D. Eisenhower and Alexander Haig.

Later that year, President George H. W. Bush selected him as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Powell in November 1989, in his official portrait as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Powell's last military assignment, from October 1, 1989, to September 30, 1993, was as the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. At age 52, he became the youngest officer, and first Afro-Caribbean American, to serve in this position. Powell was also the first JCS chair who received his commission through ROTC.

During this time, Powell oversaw responses to 28 crises, including the invasion of Panama in 1989 to remove General Manuel Noriega from power and Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. During these events, Powell earned the nickname 'the reluctant warrior'—although Powell himself disputed this label, and spoke in favor of the first Bush administration's Gulf War policies.

As a military strategist, Powell advocated an approach to military conflicts that maximizes the potential for success and minimizes casualties. A component of this approach is the use of overwhelming force, which he applied to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. His approach has been dubbed the Powell Doctrine. Powell continued as chairman of the JCS into the Clinton presidency. However, as a realist, he considered himself a bad fit for an administration largely made up of liberal internationalists. He clashed with then-US ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright over the Bosnian crisis, as he opposed any military intervention that did not involve US interests.

Powell also regularly clashed with Secretary of Defense Leslie Aspin, whom he was initially hesitant to support after Aspin was nominated by President Clinton. During a lunch meeting between Powell and Aspin in preparation of Operation Gothic Serpent, Aspin was more focused on eating salad instead of listening and paying attention to Powell's presentation on military operations. The incident caused Powell to grow more irritated towards Aspin and led to his early resignation on September 30, 1993. Powell was succeeded temporarily by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral David E. Jeremiah, who took the position as Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Soon after Powell's resignation, on October 3–4, 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu, the aim of which was to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, was initiated and ended in disaster. Powell later defended Aspin, saying in part that he could not fault Aspin for Aspin's decision to remove a Lockheed AC-130 from the list of armaments requested for the operation.

Powell took an early resignation from his tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 30, 1993. During his chairmanship of the JCS, there was discussion of awarding Powell a fifth star, granting him the rank of General of the Army. But even in the wake of public and Congressional pressure to do so, Clinton-Gore presidential transition team staffers decided against it.

Powell's experience in military matters made him a very popular figure with both American political parties. Many Democrats admired his moderate stance on military matters, while many Republicans saw him as a great asset associated with the successes of past Republican administrations. Put forth as a potential Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 1992 US presidential election or even potentially replacing Vice President Dan Quayle as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Powell eventually declared himself a Republican and began to campaign for Republican candidates in 1995. He was touted as a possible opponent of Bill Clinton in the 1996 US presidential election, possibly capitalizing on a split conservative vote in Iowa and even leading New Hampshire polls for the GOP nomination, but Powell declined, citing a lack of passion for politics. Powell defeated Clinton 50–38 in a hypothetical match-up proposed to voters in the exit polls conducted on Election Day. Despite not standing in the race, Powell won the Republican New Hampshire Vice-Presidential primary on write-in votes.

In 1997, Powell founded America's Promise with the objective of helping children from all socioeconomic sectors. That same year saw the establishment of The Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership and Service. The mission of the center is to 'prepare new generations of publicly engaged leaders from populations previously underrepresented in public service and policy circles, to build a strong culture of civic engagement at City College, and to mobilize campus resources to meet pressing community needs and serve the public good.'

Powell was mentioned as a potential candidate in the 2000 US presidential election, but again decided against running. Once Texas Governor George W. Bush secured the Republican nomination, Powell endorsed him for president and spoke at the 2000 Republican National Convention. Bush won the general election and appointed Powell as secretary of state in 2001.

In the electoral college vote count of 2016, Powell received three votes for president from faithless electors from Washington.

Secretary of State

Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listen to President George W. Bush speak. Powell was the first Black United States secretary of state. As secretary of state, Powell was perceived as moderate. Powell was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate. Over the course of his tenure he traveled less than any other US Secretary of State in 30 years.

On September 11, 2001, Powell was in Lima, Peru, meeting with President Alejandro Toledo and attending a meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of American States. After the September 11 attacks, Powell's job became of critical importance in managing the United States of America's relationships with foreign countries in order to secure a stable coalition in the War on Terrorism.

Powell came under fire for his role in building the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In a press statement on February 24, 2001, he had said that sanctions against Iraq had prevented the development of any weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein. Powell favored involving the international community in the invasion, as opposed to a unilateral approach.

Powell's chief role was to garner international support for a multi-national coalition to mount the invasion. To this end, Powell addressed a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, to argue in favor of military action. Citing numerous anonymous Iraqi defectors, Powell asserted that 'there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.' Powell also stated that there was 'no doubt in my mind' that Saddam was working to obtain key components to produce nuclear weapons.

Secretary Powell with Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Alwi Shihab during a visit to Banda Aceh following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. December 26, 2004 Tsunami that struck South East Asia Most observers praised Powell's oratorical skills. However, Britain's Channel 4 News reported soon afterwards that a UK intelligence dossier that Powell had referred to as a 'fine paper' during his presentation had been based on old material and plagiarized an essay by American graduate student Ibrahim al-Marashi.

A 2004 report by the Iraq Survey Group concluded that the evidence that Powell offered to support the allegation that the Iraqi government possessed weapons of mass destruction was inaccurate.

Personal life Powell married Alma Johnson on August 25, 1962. Their son, Michael Powell, was the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2001 to 2005. His daughters are Linda Powell, an actress, and Annemarie Powell. As a hobby, Powell restored old Volvo and Saab automobiles. In 2013, he faced questions about his relationship with the Romanian diplomat Corina Cre?u, after a hacked AOL email account had been made public. He acknowledged a 'very personal' email relationship but denied further involvement. He was an Episcopalian.

Death On October 18, 2021, Powell, who was being treated for multiple myeloma, died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 84. He had been vaccinated, but his myeloma compromised his immune system. President Joe Biden and four of the five living former presidents issued statements recognizing Powell as an American hero.

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